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The Deobandi (Urdu: دیو بندی devbandī) is a Sunni Sufi[1] Islamic revivalist movement which started in India and has more recently spread to other countries, such as Afghanistan, South Africa and the United Kingdom.[2][3][4] The name derives from Deoband, India, where the school Darul Uloom Deoband is situated. Deobandis follow the fiqh of Abu Hanifa[citation needed] and Abu Mansur Maturidi's[citation needed] thought in Aqidah and Kalam, school of law (Fiqh).



Deobandi thought has five main principles, which are:[citation needed]

  1. Tawhid: Abrahamic Monotheism (of God); no one shares His attributes.
  2. Sunna: Following the methodology of Muhammad.
  3. Ħubbus-Sahaba: Following the methodology of companions of Muhammad.
  4. Taqlid wal-Ittibā: Giving preference to the jurisprudence of one of the earliest jurists of Islam over that of later jurists.
  5. Jihād fī Sabīlil-Lāh: Doing Jihād (Striving for the good, in the name of God)


The Deobandi movement developed as a reaction to the British colonialism in India, which was believed by Muslim theologians to be corrupting Islam. Fearing its consequences, a group of Indian Hanafi Islamic scholars (Ulama) led by Qasim Nanotwi founded an Islamic seminary known as Darul Uloom Deoband. It is here that the Islamic revivalist and anti-British ideology of the Deobandis began to develop. Gradually, through organisations such as Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind and Tablighi Jamaat, their influence began to spread, and hundreds of schools and Darul Ulooms affiliated with Deoband sprouted. Notable Hanafi seminaries of Deobandi school include: Nadwatul-Ulama in Lucknow, India and Darul Uloom Karachi, Karachi, Pakistan.

Early Deobandi scholars include Nanotwi, Rasheed Ahmad Gangohi, Husain Ahmed Madani, Mawlana Ashraf Ali Thanawi, Ilyas Khandhelawi, Ubaidullah Sindhi, and Muhammad Zakariya al-Kandahlawi.


Prominent Scholars

Prominent Deobandi scholars today include Maulana Saalim Qasmi, Mufti Taqi Uthmani, Mufti Ebrahim Desai, Grand Mufti Muhammad Rafi Usmani, and Tariq Jamil.

Prominent Members

Some famous people who have joined the Tablighi Jamaat (a movement founded by Deoband Maulana Muhammad Ilyas) are Pakistani cricketers Shahid Afridi, Inzamam ul Haq, Mohammad Yousuf, Saqlain Mushtaq, former Pakistani cricketers Saeed Anwar and Salim Malik and famous pop star Junaid Jamshaid.

In the United Kingdom

According to The Times, about 600 of Britain's nearly 1,400 mosques are run by Deobandi affiliated clerics, and 17 of the country's 26 Islamic seminaries follow Deobandi teachings, producing about 80 percent of all domestically trained Muslim clerics.[5][6][7]

Controversial Shaykh Abu Yusuf Riyadh ul Haq is in line to become the spiritual leader of the Deobandi sect in Britain.[8][9]

Condemnation of terrorism

In February 2008, an "Anti-terrorism Conference" organized by the seminary Darul Uloom in Deoband, Uttar Pradesh, denounced all forms of terrorism, saying "Islam prohibits killing of innocent people," and "Islam sternly condemns all kinds of oppression, violence and terrorism." The conference also denounced widespread attempts to blame religious Muslims for terrorist incidents.[10]

Controversy and Criticism


The Taliban are said[who?] to follow the teachings of the Deoband school, although some journalists, such as Ahmed Rashid, claim they follow a simplistic version of the school's teachings.[11]

Conflict with Barelwis

Some Barelwi leaders have pronounced takfir on Deobandis for writings deemed to be against the Quran and Sunnah.[12] In May 2001, riots broke out in Pakistan after the assassination of a leader of the Barelwi movement by Sipah Sahaba Pakistan, a Deoband-affiliated group.[13] Barelwi activists have forcibly taken control of several dozen Deobandi and Salafi Mosques between 1992 and 2002, with methods that have often sparked violence.[13]

Salafi Criticism

Salafi scholars criticise Deobandis for:

  • Frequent ta'weel of the attributes of Allah.[14]
  • Not considering the complete Qur'an to be the Speech of Allah.[15]
  • Acknowledgment of tawassul, which is considered shirk by Salafis.[16]
  • Belief in the eternal life of Muhammad[17] which, according to Salafi scholars, belongs only to Allah, and thus constitutes shirk, besides contradicting the verse from the Qur'an: "Verily you, (O Muhammad) will die and they will die too".[18]
  • Denying that Iman is both belief and action, maintaining that it is simply "affirmation of the tongue and confirmation of the heart"[19] and that "righteous actions are not a part of Iman because actions increase and decrease";[20] and denying that Iman increases and decreases,[21] against the statements in the Qur'an: "And when His verses are recited to them they increase their Iman".[22] and "And the believers may increase in Iman"[23]
Cash for fatwas scandal

Following a sting operation, StarTV Channel showed clerics belonging to Darul Uloom Deoband demanding and receiving cash for fatwas. The fatwas issued allegedly mandated that Muslims are not allowed to use credit cards, double beds or camera-equipped cell phones; that Muslims should not act in films, donate their organs or teach their children English; and that Muslim girls should not wear jeans.[24]

The seminary's vice chancellor, Marghoobur Rehman, said cleric Mufti Habibur Rehman was suspended from the fatwa department on Sunday after the television report, according to a Press Trust of India news agency report.

The vice chancellor said a committee would investigate the matter and, if found guilty, the cleric would be sacked.[25]

See also


  1. ^ Official Site of Darul Uloom Deoband
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ "Few people realise the extent to which the Deobandis have infiltrated mosques, schools and Muslim neighbourhoods across the country. The ultra-conservative movement, with modern roots in Pakistan’s extremist madrassas, now controls more than 600 mosques. It runs 17 of Britain’s 26 Islamic seminaries, and they produce 80 per cent of home-trained Muslim clerics." Times Online September 7, 2007
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^ Muslim clerics declare terror "un-Islamic" Times of India Feb. 25, 2008
  11. ^ Ahmed Rashid Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil and Fundamentalism in Central Asia (2001)
  12. ^,%20tablighi%20&%20wahabi%20groups
  13. ^ a b The Hindu : Opinion / Leader Page Articles : Serious threat to Pakistan's civil society
  14. ^ "And the suitable ta'weel of the verses has been performed by our imaams based on the correct language and religion, so that those with less understanding may comprehend them, for example Istawaa which implies victory and Hand which implies power." Khaleel Ahmad Saharanpuri, Al-Mahnad 'ala al-Mufnad
  15. ^ "We do not say that the words and alphabets of the Qur'an are of previous existence. and we are not convinced that it is new. Rather, the meaning of the Qur'an is ancient, which is with the essence of Allah. Allah speaks with this established arrangement which indicates its ancient (pre-existene) meaning. It is this arrangement which Allah causes the people to hear. It is this arrangement which is memorized and its inscriptions and shapes are written in place of letters which indicate its meaning. So the meaning of His saying "So that he may hear the Word of Allah" (at-Tawbah 9:6) means until they hear the words which indicate the speech of Allah. Just as it is said 'I have heard the knowledge of so and so'. Thus Musa (peace be upon him) heard a voice which indicated Allah the Most High. However since it was not through the medium of a book or angel, he was particularized with the name 'Al-Kaleem'. It is a matter of fact that the speech of Allah the Most High is a term shared between the ancient Al-Kalaam and Nafsee (meaning being related to Him, being an attribute of Him, the Most High) and between the spoken, the new the one written from the chapters and verses (meaning that it is the creation of Allah and not from the writings of the created).", Sharh aqaaid un-Nasfiyyah
  16. ^ "We and our scholars believe that the tawassul of the prophets, awliyaa, martyrs and the truthful is permissible while making supplication during their lifetime and after their death, one should clearly state: O Allah, through the means of so and so respected individual, I seek the acceptance of my supplication and the granting my wish."< Khaleel ahmad Saharanpuri, p.7
  17. ^ "And from that which is established with the Ulema is the fact that the Prophet is alive and being provided with sustenance. He (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) benefits from all the different types of pleasures and types of worship, except that he is concealed from the vision of those who are deficient of noble rank." Hasan Sharbanlali Muraaqi al-Falah Ali Noor, al-Eedah
  18. ^ Qur'an, az-Zumar, 39:30
  19. ^ Tahawi, Kitab ul-Aqeedah
  20. ^ Abul Muntahi al-Mughnisani, Sharh al Fiqh al Akbar, p.31
  21. ^ "...the reality that Iman does not increase or decrease..." Sharh Aqaaid Nasfiyyah, p.88
  22. ^ Qur,an, al-anfaal, 8:2
  23. ^ Qur'an, al-Muddathir, 74:31
  24. ^
  25. ^,,2-10-1462_2000879,00.html


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Opposing views

Categories: Deobandi | Islam in India | Sufism | Islam in Pakistan | Sunni IslamHidden categories: All articles with unsourced statements | Articles with unsourced statements since May 2008 | Articles with unsourced statements since January 2008 | Articles with specifically-marked weasel-worded phrases

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